SOUTH WEBSTER — Throughout Scioto County and in schools across the country, there are student-athletes who embody everything that there is to be proud of about the communities they come from.
As one of South Webster’s all-time greatest multi-sport student-athletes, Shawnee State senior defender Alek Blevins has a stake to that claim as much as any other athlete that has come before him.
Blevins, a former three-sport dynamo at South Webster, has developed into a critical piece for the Shawnee State men’s soccer roster — and a leader on the defensive backline.
For the Northeastern Scioto County native, the opportunity to have an athletic career at the collegiate level, let alone one of the four-year variety, is an opportunity that Blevins is proud of as he heads toward his senior season.
“It means a lot to me and this community,” Blevins said. “I think it shows that if I’m able to do it, then anybody can. No matter how big the city you’re from, anything is possible if you put the drive and work toward your goal.”
A true rarity at the high school level, Blevins was not only a multi-year starter for the baseball, basketball and soccer programs at South Webster, but led all three programs to outstanding successes throughout his high school career.
During his first three years of action, Blevins collected four all-Southeast District mentions — including three in soccer alone.
The Jeeps were regular competitors in the top half of the Southern Ohio Conference Division II (SOC II) in baseball and basketball, but in soccer, South Webster proved itself as arguably the county’s — and arguably one of the region’s — most dominant forces.
In Blevins’ first three years, the Jeeps — which competed in the SOC I in soccer prior to their move to SOC II last fall, won the conference title in each season, and went 39-12-8 while advancing to the district tournament in all three seasons and the Division III Southeast District finals on two separate occasions during that time.
That success, by itself, is better than the vast majority of most high school athletes.
However, Blevins’ senior campaign would prove to be one of the best three-sport seasons that the area has ever witnessed.
In soccer, South Webster put together a historic run, going 18-0-1 over its first 19 games and winning the Division III district championship before falling to Bishop Rosecrans by a 1-0 margin in overtime in the Division III, Region 11 semifinals.
Blevins was named as the SOC I Player of the Year, the Division III Southeast District Player of the Year, and a first-team all-Ohio honoree as a result of a 34-goal, four-assist campaign.
On the hardwood, Blevins — the floor general on South Webster’s 2017 unit — led the Jeeps to a spirited run to the Division IV district finals, progressing from a losing record in the regular season to a unit that dropped a tight bout to Clay — which advanced to the regional final — by a scant six-point margin.
He was named as a third-team all-Southeast District honoree following the season — after earning Special Mention all-Southeast District honors the season prior.
In baseball, Blevins continued his strong play.
Playing arguably the toughest position in the field from a defensive perspective, Blevins helped South Webster forge another historic postseason path — despite a losing record during the regular season.
In 168 innings of work behind the dish, the senior only allowed five passed balls — and the Jeeps utilized a tough schedule to defeat Trimble, Green and Notre Dame by a combined 23-5 margin to win a Division IV Southeast District championship and allow the school to enjoy its second regional trip in a seven-month stretch.
He was later named all-Ohio for his play behind the plate to cap off his athletic career.
As sweet as the successes were for Blevins, his academic success proved to be even better.
The senior won a Southeastern Ohio District Athletic Board Scholarship for his performance in the classroom at South Webster, where he graduated with high honors.
“For me, having that kind of success really showed me what hard work can really do,” Blevins said. “I am so grateful for all of the coaches and teammates I had throughout high school. Everyone held everyone else accountable to do their very best. Even though I have been out of high school for awhile, the lessons that I learned are ones that I continue to carry in my everyday life, on and off the field.”
Playing for coaches who have had extensive backgrounds and longevity in the sports that they have coached has helped as well.
Current South Webster head soccer coach Corey Claxon, who has been the Jeeps’ head coach since 2003; Ryan Fenton, who was the South Webster boys basketball head coach for his alma mater after winning a state championship with the program as a player in 2006; and Ryan McClintic, the Jeeps’ baseball coach who was a teammate of Fenton’s on that 2006 state championship team, passed down important lessons that Blevins has carried with him during his time at the collegiate level.
“Playing for all of those guys is what made high school sports so much fun for me,” Blevins said. “They taught me so many life lessons that it would be hard to list them all. The most important one, however, was the fact that I am a student-athlete first, not an athlete-student. I also learned lessons in regards to respect from all three coaches. They pushed me everyday in practice. Not only did they push me, but they pushed my teammates, which in turn, pushed me to be better.”
Since his Shawnee State career began back in 2017, Blevins has continued showing similar reliability.
He’s appeared in 53 of the Bears’ 55 contests, all while helping SSU improve vastly from a 2-17 record during his freshman season to a 9-9-1 mark in 2019.
Better yet, he’s helped contribute to the program’s improvement while embracing a change in roles — moving exclusively to the backline over the last two seasons after scoring six goals in his first year with the Bears.
Academically, Blevins holds a strong GPA of 3.14 — all while obtaining over 115 hours of academic credit to his name.
He earned over 20 of those hours through the College Credit Plus program, of which Blevins is a big proponent of.
“The staff and players at Shawnee State, when I arrived, were very welcoming,” Blevins said. “The coaches have converted me from the position I came in as (forward) to the position that I play now (defender) and I have actually had more fun playing this way. They both have great insight into the game and know what to do with the team. As for the players, it was as if we had been friends since before Shawnee State. From having some guys in my classes to playing against some players even back in high school, it has been a blast getting to know everyone throughout my years at Shawnee State.”
With one more year of eligibility remaining, Blevins wants to go out with a bang — and make the 2020 campaign Shawnee State’s best to date.
“I hope to have an even better season than we did last year,” Blevins said. “I’d like to see us finish inside the top four in the conference standings and win a tournament game. All of these are possible if the talent we are bringing in, along with all of us who are already here, put all of our effort into practicing and preparing. I am looking forward to the 2020 season, and hope that it will be a great one.”
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club.